OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A very warm day has Amanda Moomey thinking about her skyrocketing bill from Oklahoma Natural Gas.
“I live on Social Security and disability, so I have a very fixed income,” said the longtime OKC resident, adding that she’s typically used an autopay feature to help with planning for the monthly expense which typically ranged from $60 to $80.
But that was before a sudden spike in natural gas rates at the beginning of the year.
“[But] even with being conservative with heating, cooling, cooking, showers, everything I can possibly do to reduce usage…not an impact whatsoever,” she added. “All of a sudden in January of this year I noticed a balance due,” added Moomey, noting that all her bills since the first of the year have been closer to a $100 or $150.
“And my usage has definitely not doubled, it’s just me myself and I,” Moomey continued. “I’m going to have to make a payment arrangement.”
Local rate increases across the state also add to that tension, with ONG customers facing two separate price hikes since the end of 2021, including a winter storm 2021 recovery fee, which increases a customer’s bill up to eight dollars, according to their rate plan, in addition to an annual performance-based rate increase for 2022.
The total increase for the year is more than $19 million, and for the average customer, that means more than a dollar extra each month.
ONG representatives declined an on-camera interview Friday, but confirmed to KFOR in a partial statement that rates have gone up as much as 90 percent over the last year, and for the most part they have no control over the rates, electing to pass that cost on to their customers:
“Oklahoma Natural Gas customers have seen an increase in their gas bills due to the rise in natural gas prices our industry is seeing in the market. As a reminder, Oklahoma Natural Gas does not set the price of gas. Our customers pay what we pay for natural gas. Our company recommends customers perform regular maintenance of their natural gas appliances (including their water heaters) with the help of professionals to maximize efficiency and encourage cost savings.”
Oklahoma Natural Gas
ONG representatives said customers needing help with bill payments can find more information on their website.
That sudden hike also reflects a sharp rise in natural gas prices globally, according to a representative from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, who told KFOR in a statement Friday that the price hikes could be attributed to the rising demand as well as a long-lasting strain on gas and energy markets due to the 2021 winter storm, adding that “the demand for energy-related commodities, including natural gas, has largely returned at a faster rate than production.”
As for Amanda, she’s not sure those rising prices are something she will be able to continue to afford.
“Without asking for assistance, this is about as much as I can handle,” she said.
KFOR also reached out to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to get their perspective on why the rates went up, and why customers were so caught off guard.
In a statement this afternoon to the newsroom they also confirmed that the spike was likely due to the competitive natural gas market and other related expenses.
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